Brazil’s latest “Operation 404” crackdown is aimed at “Metaverse” piracy.

Dave Harvard
Reading time: 3 minutes

Brazilian law enforcement agencies have announced “Operation 404,” the fourth wave of their plan to stop piracy. The government shut down or blocked access to 226 websites and 461 piracy apps. They also made several arrests. For the first time, the Justice Department says, they made some efforts to stop piracy in the “metaverse,” though it’s unclear what that means.

In the fall of 2019, Brazilian law enforcement agencies ran a huge campaign to stop piracy. The name “Operation 404,” is after a standard HTTP error code.

With help from police in the U.S. and U.K., the authorities shut down over a hundred websites and apps and arrested several suspects.

Several new waves of actions were launched to stop piracy in the years that followed. Under the names “Operation 404.2” and “Operation 404.3,” law enforcement blocked or seized the domain names of hundreds of pirate sites and streaming apps.

Operation 404.4

Brazil’s Ministry of Justice already announced the round four of operation 404. With 30 search and seizure warrants, law enforcement blocked or seized the domains of 226 websites, 461 piracy apps, and 15 social media accounts.

The police don’t say the exact names of any of the targets. But they point out that the apps alone have been downloaded more than 10 million times. IFPI said that all of these apps were related to music.

The Civil Police worked in 11 states and took ten people into custody. Those guilty will spend between two and four years in prison and pay a hefty fine.

As in past years, Brazil got help from international groups and law enforcement trying to stop piracy. These include the U.S. Justice Department, the U.K. Intellectual Property Office, and the City of London Police.

Metaverse Raid?

The Ministry of Justice also says that this is the first time that part of “Operation 404” happened “in the metaverse.” This is an exciting claim since the metaverse is still mostly just an idea that is unclear.

The government doesn’t say how or where they got into the metaverse, but a press release states that illegal broadcasts on four channels were shut down. Also, they took down illegally obtained 90 videos.

Alessandro Barreto, who is in charge of the Cybercrime group at the Secretariat of Integrated Operations (Seopi), says that criminals made maps and events in the metaverse and invited people interested to video platforms.

Even though the proof isn’t there, there’s a possibility that people used platforms like Roblox to advertise illegal services, as we saw in a recent crackdown on “metaverse” piracy in Italy. That is a pretty broad way to use the word “metaverse.”

We don’t know if there will be any more crackdowns in the metaverse. But the authorities clearly state that they are always looking for new kinds of piracy.

“Our fight against piracy is ongoing. We are increasingly specializing in curbing these practices and identifying new crimes”, Seopi’s Alessandro Barreto says.

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